Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Everest, The D Train, more...

Out on Friday 18 September

Jake Gyllenhaal faces a challenge the size of Everest. Jack Black and James Marsden share a proper bromance. Robert Redford takes Nick Nolte for a stroll. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of Everest, The D Train, A Walk In The Woods, Tangerines, Dartmoor Killing, Horse Money, Steamboat Bill. Jr, A Girl At My Door, Infini, The Messenger, Bill and Zarafa. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.

EVEREST

Everest is another beast, we are told early on in Baltasar Kormkurs true-life tale, the first of many warning shots fired. Majestic yet unforgiving, the worlds highest mountain really does seem like a wild animal that can never be tamed. Still, tell that to those whove ever conquered the summit an adventure that requires determination, stamina and resilience. Scripted by William Nicholson (Gladiator) and Simon Beaufoy, Everest sets out to retrace the fateful events in May 1996 when two expedition groups were caught in the path of a violent storm. Part tragedy, part miracle, its a survival story that arrives in the wake of (All Is Lost and (127 Hours (which Beaufoy co-wrote), with themes of bravery, loyalty, ingenuity and courage looming almost as large as Everest itself. Its set at a time when ascending the mountain had become a mini-industry, with clients paying hefty fees to join a professional climber and his crew to attempt the near-impossible. One of the most successful companies in this field was the New Zealand outfit Adventure Consultants, co-formed by Rob Hall (played here by Jason Clarke), the Kiwi climber who had already led 19 others to the summit. Leaving his pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) back in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the words be back for the birth ringing in his ears, Hall sets off for another ascent. Joining him are a party including cocksure Texan Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), Seattle mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), who got close to making the summit a year earlier, and Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly), a journalist writing a feature on Hall and his team. Yet the Adventure Consultants are hardly alone on the mountain. At a base camp seemingly busier than Piccadilly Circus at rush hour, there are some 20 different teams attempting to climb Everest in the same time period. Leading one rival outfit, Mountain Madness, is Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal), a big-bearded, pony-tailed adrenaline junkie who looks like hed be more at home surfing waves at Venice Beach. Of course, scaling Everest is not something that can be done in a day, as Kormkur painstakingly shows. It takes several partial ascents for the body to acclimatise before a final push can be made; as were told in no uncertain terms, a human is not meant to function at the cruising height of a 747 or the Death Zone, as they term it. A portent of doom? With characters coughing up blood or gasping for oxygen, theres no doubt this is one of the riskiest pursuits in the world. Oddly, its these early scenes that are the most compelling. From a mini-avalanche to Beck almost falling from a ladder shakily placed across one of the gulp-inducing crevasses, Kormkur skillfully opens up a world that many of us have never experienced. Shot in stomach-knotting 3D, it has the same white-knuckle intensity as Alfonso Cuarns (Gravity. Placing you firmly on the mountain, the film makes you feel the vertigo, the rush of blood to the head. Kormkur makes little attempt to explore the psychology of this group, though. At base camp, Krakauer asks: Why climb Everest? The resounding answer from all is simply: Because its there. This stubborn quality may be essential to any climber, but it hardly adds a layer of complexity to any of the characters. Rather like the glimpses we see of Knightleys pensive spouse or of Robin Wright (as Becks wife Peach), insight is all too brief. Everests problems really lie in its second half, when events conspire against the climbers. While the storm and the body-numbing temperatures are the ultimate killers, Kormkur also takes care to catalogue the mistakes that occur in the countdown to disaster. Theres the missing ropes and oxygen tanks and the mountaineers wilful determination to make it to the summit even after the so-called turnaround time, the safety cut-off point when the climbers need to head back. Credit to the actors, who are all fully committed, though its Emily Watson, as base-camp manager Helen Wilton, who arguably walks away with the acting honours. The films emotional anchor, she performs a vital act of assistance in the finale and theres an impressive acting masterclass to be seen in Watsons stricken face. Yet, in truth, Kormkur never quite earns the same reaction from viewers. With a cast that also includes Sam Worthington as Robs fellow climber Guy Cotter and (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.s Elizabeth Debicki as the team doctor Caroline Mackenzie, Everest doesnt want for familiar faces. But with so many characters vying for attention, its hard to feel much for any one individual, with the exception of Clarkes unflappable Hall. Perhaps the real star is Everest itself. As were told: The last word belongs to the mountain. THE VERDICT: A valiant effort that never quite scales the dizzy emotional heights required, running out of oxygen in the final act. Visually, though, its stunning. Director: Baltasar Kormkur Starring: Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emily Watson, John Hawkes, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright screenplay William Nicholson, Simon Beaufoy Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 James Mottram

THE D TRAIN

If the bromantic comedy feels a little tired after three Hangovers and numerous sozzled copycats, you can count on Jack Black to give the sub-genre a shot in the arm. On the surface, The D Train looks like the archetypal Jack Black film as in previous outings like School Of Rock, he plays a small-town lummox who lies, cheats and alienates everybody around him but writer-directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul smartly play on the actors manic misanthrope persona to deliver something surprisingly subversive. Packed with nostalgia, wry humour and a pumping 80s soundtrack, their directorial debut is a confident parody of the romantic comedy. Black plays Dan Landsman, who discovers that one-time high school superstar Oliver Lawless (James Marsden) is now a big-shot actor. Tricking his boss into sending him on a made-up business trip to L.A., Dan tracks Oliver down and convinces him to attend their upcoming high school reunion. So far, so goofball comedy, but after a night out takes an unexpected turn, that flimsy set-up develops into something genuinely interesting, providing a platform for Black to build one of his sturdiest and most unexpectedly moving performances. Yes, Dans an irritating, dishonest oaf, but with the help of Mogel and Paul (who shared a writing credit on dismal Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man), Black expertly unpicks Dans mesh of insecurities. Its not difficult to understand the characters obsession with Oliver, especially as portrayed by an impossibly dreamy Marsden, and The D Train triumphs when it zooms in on the way Oliver casually magnifies Dans multiple neuroses. Less successful is a clunky subplot involving Dans tech-phobic boss (Jeffrey Tambor), but Mogel and Paul are clearly John Hughes fans and, elsewhere, their film excels at splicing the Brat Pack blueprint with a little of Bobcat Goldthwaits anarchic spirit, imagining what Hughes teens might be like 20 years down the line. The result is unconventional, funny and surprisingly poignant. THE VERDICT: Refreshingly subversive and featuring a never-better Jack Black, The D Train takes bromantic comedies to their natural conclusion. One of the years bravest and warmest comedies. Directors: Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul Starring: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Josh Winning

A WALK IN THE WOODS

Originally conceived as a reunion vehicle for Robert Redford and Paul Newman, this amiable adaptation of Bill Brysons 1998 bestseller might once have stood alongside Butch Cassidy and The Sting. Instead it is destined to sit among the slightly less exalted likes of Wild and The Way earnest movies that use walking as a metaphor for personal growth and the great outdoors as a conduit for self-exploration and reflection. Even next to those films, A Walk In The Woods is more a light stroll than a gruelling yomp. Yet its still one that affords lots of incidental pleasures, chief among them the testy, sparring interplay between Redfords genial, rueful Bryson and Nick Noltes grizzled, growly Katz, a college buddy of old who volunteers to join the author as he undertakes an impulsive hike up the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. A shambling wreck with a lifetime of alcoholism etched on his features, Katz could hardly be more different from his more assured and elegant companion. While making light-hearted hay of their differences, however, Ken Kwapis film also finds time to celebrate what they have in common: a mutual loathing for Kristen Schaals annoyingly perky younger backpacker, for example, or their shared admiration for Mary Steenburgens accommodating, lonely hostelier. That the pair scarcely scratch the surface of their arduous quest is par for the course in a film that is as much about the ageing process as it is about tents and camping stoves. (So is a pace that rarely gets above walking and is often practically sedentary.) Like the book on which its based, though, A Walk In The Woods is more about the ebbs and flows of friendship than it is about the walk. And when the friends in question are a brace of ageing Hollywood heavyweights brimming with charisma, its no hardship to share time in their company THE VERDICT: Watchable leads and attractive scenery are the chief draws of a film that takes its own sweet time getting nowhere in particular. Shame Emma Thompson is wasted as Redfords stay-at-home spouse. Director: Ken Kwapis Starring: Robert Redford, Emma Thompson, Nick Nolte, Mary Steenburgen, Nick Offerman, Kristen Schaal Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Neil Smith

TANGERINES

Its probably the smallest-scale war film youll ever see, yet Georgian director Zaza Urushadzes lean, moving, old-school chamber piece packs a surprising moral and emotional punch. Tucked in the backwoods of the 1992 Georgian civil war, elderly ethnic Estonian farmer Ivo (Christopher Lee lookalike Lembit Ulfsak) plucks two wounded soldiers from a firefight and houses them while they recover. The only snag is that fiery Chechen mercenary Ahmed (a nimbly tough-and-tender Giorgi Nakashidze) and diehard Georgian separatist Niko (Misha Meskhi) are determined to repay his hospitality by killing one another. Were in Enemy Mine and Hell In The Pacific territory, except that its the pragmatic Ivos compassion battling the deadly macho tribalism of his guests. Big ideas (the insanity of war, the importance of friendship and forgiveness) are played out with dry humour and crackling tension on the tiny canvas of Ivos house and garden. A slow starter when revelling in the gorgeous landscapes and rural peace of Ivo and his neighbour Margus imperilled tangerine harvest, the films pace and story are cunningly trip-wired. Theres war-war here, as well as jaw-jaw. Snaking unnervingly from death-threat domestic tensions to sudden devastating incursions by the rival armies, Urushadzes little patch of conflict has the defend-the-homestead feel of a Western. A taciturn script, making every word count as Ivo dryly shoots down the soldiers sloganising, reinforces the a-mans-gotta-do feel that permeates the movie (the only female presence in Tangerines is just a cherished photograph). If the tone is sometimes melancholy, its just as often darkly amused at the absurdity of wounded men lunging at one another with hot tea or hunting knives. Magisterial yet big-hearted, Lembit Ulfsaks father figure dominates the whole shooting-match with a quietly devastating performance. Refusing to let war destroy his sense of humanity, his Ivo expands and elevates the films simple War, what is it good for? message by the force of his sheer decency. THE VERDICT: A thought-provoking, tiny-but-tough Oscar-nominated Georgian anti-war drama. He pulls a knife, you fling the tea thats the Caucasus way Director: Zaza Urushadze Starring: Lembit Ulfsak, Mikheil Meskhi, Giorgi Nakhashidze, Elmo Nuganen, Raivo Trass Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Kate Stables

DARTMOOR KILLING

As the title suggests, theres trouble on the Moor. Exploiting this area of raw natural beauty, Peter Nicholsons uneven thriller sees two girlfriends (Rebecca Night, Gemma-Leah Devereux) in the clutches of a vengeful psycho Chris (Callum Blue) at his isolated farm. Early on, theres some erotic intrigue as our would-be killer plays the two chums off each other; if Nicholson had played up the trashier elements (amnesia, dj vu), it mightve been more fun, but solemn flashbacks sink the plot. Veteran David Hayman, who plays Chris father, looks entirely bemused to even be there. Director: Peter Nicholson Starring: Gemma-Leah Devereux, Rebecca Night, David Hayman, Callum Blue Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 James Mottram

HORSE MONEY

Prior knowledge of both Portuguese director Pedro Costas previous films and his countrys mid-70s Carnation Revolution are prerequisites for deciphering this disorientating work. Appearing to be set in a mysterious underground hospital-cum-prison, it sees regular Costa collaborator Ventura, an elderly Cape Verdean immigrant and former construction worker, haunted by painful memories and visited perhaps in his imagination by figures from his traumatic past. Theres no denying the artistry, with strikingly lit and framed compositions, but Horse Moneys opacity proves frustrating. Director: Pedro Costa Starring: Ventura, Vitalina Varela, Tito Furtado, Antonio Santos, Benvindo Tavares Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Tom Dawson

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR

Buster Keatons final independent film is one of his finest achievements, something of a greatest hits package in its refinement of old routines. Keaton plays the titular character, a befuddled innocent whos set upon by man, machine and the elements but survives due to audacious, daredevil bravado. Far from coasting on his talent, he risks life and limb in the pursuit of the perfect gag, most obviously in the iconic, insanely dangerous falling housefront sequence. The shock and awe of that climax is hard to beat, but the plot leading to it has charm, romance and gigglesome slapstick. Director: Charles Riesner Starring: Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Simon Kinnear

A GIRL AT MY DOOR

When Doona Baes troubled cop is transferred to a sleepy seaside South Korean town following a scandal, she takes in 14-year-old Sun Do-hee (Kim Sae-ron), the horribly abused stepdaughter of a violently alcoholic local employer, over the summer holidays. But is she doing the right thing? As her colleague says, Shes different from other kids; sometimes, she seems like a little monster... First-time director July Jung juggles a great many issues but deftly keeps the plates spinning in a soulful, shattering drama that highlights the lengths desperate people will go to survive. Director: July Jung Starring: Doona Bae, Sae-ron Kim, Sae-byuk Song Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Ali Catterall

INFINI

I wish I could tell you what happened here, but I cant, says one of the 23rd-Century search-and-rescue team despatched to a distant, virus-stricken mining colony. Truth is, Aussie writer-director Shane Abbess doesnt seem to know himself. Confusing at the start, bonkers in the middle and unintelligible by the end, Infini is an intriguing mess that borrows from the best but cant patch the pieces together. The cast, including Daniel McPherson and Luke Ford, are as good as the production design, but Abess emphatic direction doesnt cover the sense-deficit. Director: Shane Abbess Starring: Daniel Macpherson, Luke Hemsworth, Grace Huang, Luke Ford Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Matt Glasby

BILL

A Horrible Histories film by any other name, Bill sees the cast of the popular CBBC show unite for a daft, affectionate take on the rise-to-fame years of William Shakespeare. As on TV, all six members of the troupe play multiple roles a fact thats earned them comparisons with Monty Python. Bill finds its rhythm, its marvellous fun. Out goes the obvious and in come deadpan punchlines and clever word play. The gang might just make their Life Of Brian yet. Director: Richard Bracewell Starring: Matthew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard, Ben Willbond Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Stephen Kelly

THE MESSENGER

A suicide and car crash in the first 10 minutes set the tone for this gloomy British supernatural drama. Misfits alumnus Robert Sheehan stars as Jack, a man haunted by dead people begging him to pass on messages to their living loved ones, much to the concern of his disbelieving family and psychiatrist. The narrative meanders, with some plotlines running into dead ends, but everythings held together by an authoritative performance from Sheehan, who does fine work keeping open the question of whether the ghosts are really there or just figments of his troubled imagination. Director: David Blair Starring: Robert Sheehan, Joely Richardson, Tamzin Merchant, Lily Cole, Jack Fox Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Stephen Puddicombe

ZARAFA

A lot of ground both literal and thematic is here covered in 78 wonderfully animated minutes. Young boy Maki (Max Renaudin) escapes slavery and teams up with nomad Hassan (Simon Abkarian) on his mission to present a giraffe to King Charles X of France in the hopes of allying their countries. Its a whirlwind tale in the classical mould that takes in hot air balloons, pirates, and encounters with Makis old slave master, all framed as a story being told by a village elder to the local children. The result is a film that feels wholly epic, but never forgets to be fun. Director: Jean-Christophe Lie, Remi Bezancon Starring: Francois-Xavier Demaison, Max Renaudin Pratt, Simon Abkarian Theatrical release: 18 September 2015 Matt Looker

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